Archived Story

Executive privilege

Published 4:59pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012

To the editor:

In his letter, published Nov. 20, Morton Poliakoff of Tryon characterized President Obama as “an arrogant, underhanded and manipulative person who, if he doesn’t get his way, will bypass Congress, evoke executive privilege and force his programs on the American public.”

Perhaps Mr. Poliakoff is not aware that the right of a president to invoke executive privilege was provided in the U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1), and that every single president since George Washington has used it.

Nor is President Obama’s use of Executive Privilege outside the bounds of our most recent presidents. Per The American Presidency Project, President Obama had invoked Executive Privilege 138 times as of Sept. 28, 2012 (not the Internet fabrication of 900-plus times). Here’s a comparison of Obama’s use of Executive Privilege (EP) with that of his most recent predecessors:

• George H.W. Bush used EP 166 times in his four years in office.

• George W. Bush used EP 291 times in eight years.

• Bill Clinton used EP 364 times in eight years.

• Ronald Reagan used Executive Privilege 381 times in eight years.

Although not recent, the all-time Executive Privilege champ is FDR, who invoked it 3,522 times during his 12 years in office (1932-45), while leading the nation out of the Great Depression and through World War II.

As for “forcing his programs on the American public,” since President Obama has been elected twice with majorities of both the popular and electoral college votes, it would seem that the American Public – at least those who vote – have favored the vision, policies and programs he has espoused over those of the opposing presidential candidates.

- Judy Heinrich, Collinsville

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